Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pinch Flats and Politics

Remember the Hindenberg
Mike Varley over at Black Mountain Cycles was talking about frame pumps and pump pegs today. He uses them and makes sure the frames he designs have them. Anyone not knowing what a pump peg is might (at first encounter)  be confused. I know I was. I thought it was some kind of fitting for injecting helium into frames to lighten them. No, seriously, that was my first guess.

The more I get to know me the more I worry about myself. 

 But Wait and See if there are not Helium Injecting accusations at the Tour this year.

And who knows, maybe Helium Filled bicycles are the Wave of the Future. Please remember you First Heard About It Here. After all, the Wright Brothers were Bicycle Mechanics before they got into that Aeroplane Thing. 

 Who would ever have imagined that this:

Would one day lead to this:

So you can see where I get some of my notions.

Where Was I?
From Frame Pumps to International Space Stations is merely One Small Step for a mind like that of Ol' Tim Joe. I think.  I seem to have lost my train of thought...

Today's post has nothing to do with any of this except in some wildly abstract way. In a comment I made on Mike's site I mentioned how I have mounted my frame pump in typical Trailer Park Fashion using bungee cords and velcro straps. And it is a damn good thing that I did so, because today I had a flat on a longish ride Far, Far Away from any source of help or succor. And without succor, let's Face It: You're On Your Own.

One of the cool things about being insane is that now I was happy to get a flat, after years of walking the bike home or worse yet, having to call the Blonde In Residence to pick me up in the mini-van as though I were a dejected ten year old who had just lost his soccer match and got a wedgie to boot.

See Me Proud and Prepared
Not Anymore, Baby! Hah! Not only do I have a Poorly Mounted Frame Pump, but I also carry a Spare Tube! (Cue fiendish laughter.) And yeah, I didn't forget the tire irons, which actually should be called tire plastics for the sake of accuracy, or something. Stand Back, everyone, I'll handle this!

Le Danse Macabre
I forgot to mention that this flat tire occurred precisely at the same place on this lonely gravel road where some Unfortunate Fellow Creature had apparently Gone On To Greener Pastures. I never saw the carcass, because there was a veritable Begger's Feast of Big Black Vultures clumped together doing That Thing They Do. When I first pulled up, they eyed me warily and pretended to be concerned by fluffing their huge wings in dark and vaguely threatening fluffs, and when I removed the Frame pump they were definitely interested in what That Thing might be. But they all stuck around nonetheless, turning back to their Breakfast Buffet with only occasional glances my way.

So while I performed my First Ever Roadside Flat Tire Repair I was keeping one eye on what was happening over there about thirty feet away.

What's Mike Got That I Ain't Got?
Mike Varley has reported that it takes him about ten minutes to fix a flat in the wild. But has he ever done it amongst fifteen Giant Black Scary Birds hopping around with Raw Flesh dangling from their beaks? I was working pretty quickly because I wasn't sure what Vultures Do when the dead food runs out and the only thing at the Dessert Bar is an Old Sweaty Cyclist hunched over a bicycle. I certainly didn't plan to wait around and find out.

Luckily, changing flats is something I know about and this pinch flat was obvious and easy. The only difference between the Side of the Road and the Shop  (besides the carnage)   was that there was no Classic Rock on the radio or Cold Beer On the Bench. Well, there was no Bench, either...Next time I will carry glueless patches, also. But I swapped tubes, pumped away with the new frame pump, got enough Air In There to beat it on down the road to a less macabre spot and put in some more air.

Presta No Presto
Which brings up a point that is only peripherally related to today's theme, (whatever it is): Presta Pressure Gauges. A while back I learned to always travel with one of those handy-dandy stick gauges that you slap on the end of the Schraeder Valve and hey presto! A little stick pops out and tells you how many PSI's are in the tire. I do it three times and if all the readings are the same, I ride off reasonably confident that All Is Well and the Dreaded Pinch Flat won't be Comin' Round Here No More.

Now That I Have Your Attention
I can't tell you the Frustration and Near Madness that pinch flats have caused me. Well, actually, I Can Tell You if anyone is still reading. It is probably funny, but wasn't to me at the time...

It Happened At the Library
About a year ago, before I became Head (Only) Big Man In Charge of Fix-it at the Whispering Pines Trailer Park, I experienced a Period of Poverty so intense that Yea, Lo, and Verily the Internet was cut off. I was not proud of this, but neither was I defeated. The Local Library has Free Wi-Fi and Air-Conditioning, and I have a laptop. So everyday I would saddle up the old Mongoose, strap my rather ponderous seventeen inch Hewlett onto my back and pedal the seven miles to the Palace of Interwebular Satisfaction.

One day, however, I came outside only to discover that I had a flat on the rear. “Well”, I thought to myself, these things happen. I'll just walk it home.” After the first mile I let my Good Sense gain the upper hand on my Pride and I called the Blonde for a ride. Mini-van comes, I load bike, Home We Go. I pull tire, find weird little snake bite holes, apply patch: no harm, no foul.

The next day it happened again. At the Library. This time, I call the Blonde immediately and start yelling at her about cheap Chinese products and no good patches and how it gets Too Hot in Florida and Bicycles Are Stupid anyway and she says “Alright I'll pick you up but I've got to hurry 'cause I have a pot of Chili on the stove.” To which I replied “I'll meet you at the corner of US One and Palmetto to save time.” and started jogging (with the bike) away from the bike rack and down the street. Her Chili is That Good.

Anybody Need A Bathroom Break?
I would like to make this Long Story Shorter but it is already too late for that and I think, in hindsight, it gets better.

An Interlude of Sanity
For two days I forgo the pleasures of the Web and Free air-conditioning and I ride my Old Single Speed mountain bike on the Beach and around town and on the Bike Path Along the River. I am not confessing to a Fear of the Library;  who is afraid of the Library? But all the same, Money Was Tight and I was running low on glueless patches and all that Web surfing isn't very good for you.

Whaddaya Want For Nothin'?
But naturally, being only a human and not a very well-disciplined human at that, it finally came time to “check my e-mail. I'll just drop in for a minute.” I carefully rode my bicycle the seven miles to the Library. On the way, along my usual route, I used my laser vision to scout for imperfections in the road or bits of glass. While I felt silly doing it, once I got to the neighborhood of the Library, I was Watchful for Snakes. Yeah. Well? What of It? Those holes looked Just Like A Snake Bite. That's how bad this was getting. I pulled up to the where the bike racks were, hopped the curb, and went inside.

Not This Time, You Won't
But I was crafty. I went over to my usual spot, set up my computer, all the while watching for Suspicious Activity, and making sure I wasn't being watched. Then, before anyone could guess what I was doing, I moved Stealthily and Quickly back to the front foyer. Directing my Stern Gaze towards the bicycles, I was a Tiger, ready to pounce.

Nothing. Well, the bored security guy in his baggy cheap uniform was sitting out front taking a smoke break. When did Public Libraries start needing security guards? Confident nothing would happen with a Guard On Duty, I went back to my computer. I dallied about on the Internet for a while, but could not get comfortable. I should have been looking up snake-bite-lookin' holes in inner tubes, but even MY strange brain would never think that one up.

Then It Happened
 I returned to the bike rack and automatically squeezed the rear tire, a habit that remains with me to this day.  I was (to put it mildly) transmogrified to find it flat. I dropped to a crouch, looking wildly about me for whoever (or whatever) was Doing This Thing To Me. I went back inside to see if any of my Legion of Enemies were present. At that moment, it was Clear To Me I was being Stalked by Fanged Demons. Fanged Library-Goin' Tire Bitin' Demons were the only Logical Explanation.  Except...

I Blame Sarah Palin
I noticed that dumpy security guard looking my way. What's his problem? Wait a minute! HIM! That's it! It is some kind of Super-Evil Tea Party Plot to get Homeless Guys to stop coming to the Library and soakin' up free air-conditioning and dirtying up the restrooms and chewing on the magazines...THAT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING! That Security Guard is a Fanged Demon Hired By Sarah Palin to Bite My Bicycle Tires!

Dial 911! Wait, They Might Be In On It Too!
I call the Blonde. “You won't believe the sinister plot I have uncovered it is probably going on in every city in America and I've got to get home and write a Letter to the Editor Before it's too late...” When she hears the words “Letter to the Editor” she knows it is time to kick in Emergency Plan Budweiser. “Tim Joe, take it easy. Why don't I come get you and we'll go for a Drive on the Beach and what if I pick up some Beer and Ice on the way?”

All's Well That Ends Well
She Did and We Did and eventually I learned about Pinch Flats and and what those Snake Bites mean and I bought a pressure gauge and used it daily and never again  have I had my tire attacked by Fanged Demons.  

Presta Schmesta
Until today. Having recently put a New Rear Wheel on the Old Schwinn I now have entered the 19th Century and a Whole New Way to put air in the tire and as of yet, I can't find a simple stick-type pressure gauge. All I can find are digital and dial gauges and most of them get poor reviews. The LBS wants me to solve my problem with a Floor Pump With a Gauge that they happen to have on sale at twice the worst Internet price. 

 So...Fanged Demons and Vultures today, Gauge Hunting tomorrow.

Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Pinch Flat Paradise


  1. I have used both presta pressure gauge and pump with gauge and I give the edge to pump with gauge. The porta gauge is bulky, rarely used and, as you found, not that accurate. Some tricks I have learned for tubes, that you may already know, are; lightly baby powder the tube before replacing it, inflate the tire just slightly -enough to make it vaguely have a shape before inserting it into the tire then after getting the tire back on the rim (before putting in more air)work your way slowly around the rim gently pressing both sides of the tire where it meets the rim to make sure its seated properly. Inflate to maybe 20 psi give or take and repeat the massaging the tire process looking (as you press in) for any sign the tube is between the tire bead and rim, then inflate fully -check for any bulging and away you go. If it keeps happening you might also want to check that you have the right tube size for your tire. If the tube is too big (i.e. a 700x 35-43c tube on a 700x25c tire) then that might be the issue. Anyway hope something in that ramble is of use. May your tires be ever round and full of air and may the good Saint Patrick ward your hoops from evil Tea-Party snakes.


    PS the "Super-Evil Tea Party Plot to get Homeless Guys to stop coming to the Library" thing, glad I wasn't drinking any liquids reading that or it woulda come out my nose - that was LOL funny dude thanks for the chuckle.

  2. The best cure for pinch flats is a floor pump. Too many times folks who only have a hand pump (or no pump and think they can make it to the gas station on a not-enough-air-in-the-tire tire) don't get enough air in the tire and next thing they know - snake attack. Or because a hand pump takes considerable effort to air up a tire to proper pressure, stop before getting enough air in the tire to avoid a pinch flat.

  3. Thanks for taking the time to reply, guys. Looks like I'll be shopping for a floor pump. Any suggestions?
    Anyone recognize this pump?

  4. I have always like the Topeak pumps, and the Nashbar L'Orange gets good reviews and goes on sale pretty regularly- check out

  5. Tim Joe, I've been enjoying your musings since your debut with the Fat Cyclist, Thanks.
    I currently have a JoeBlow floor pump. It certainly does the job and has the ability to do Schraeder & Presta. A benefit for the only pump in the Whispering Pines Trailer Park Pinch Flat Paradise. The gage is accurate and the pump has been doing a good job for 8-9 years. No seal issues.
    I don't think it's as bullet-proof as a Silca Floor pump, but it certainly is faster.
    Just last weekend I had the opportunity use my buddy's Blackburn 4 Floor pump. It was very fast. It also has the ability to do big volume and low pressure. Might want to take a look

    Greg Domingues

  6. Sorry man, here's the link;


  7. Thanks, Greg. I had forgotten the Blackburn...they get pretty good reviews.

    I'm glad you enjoy the Blog. I definitely owe it all to Fatty.

  8. happy birthday Tim Joe. Boregaurd

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